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Air Force Awards $5.25M in SBIR Contracts During Inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day

Dept. of Defense

Blaine Pellicore, VP of Defense at Ursa Major Technologies, Inc., delivered a publicly cleared version of the company’s presentation to an audience that included Air Force leadership, other small businesses, academia, industry, and venture capitalists during the U.S. Air Force’s inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day. Ursa Major Technologies was among the seven businesses who won SBIR Phase II funding. (Photo credit: Doolittle Institute)

The Doolittle Institute hosted the inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day on behalf of the U.S. Air Force on Thursday, November 7. The collaboration between the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Armament Systems Development Division, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Arnold Engineering Development Complex awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contracts to the most viable solutions for SBIR Topic 19.2-001 Open Innovation call. 

The congressionally mandated SBIR program injects funding into U.S.-based small businesses who wish to research and develop products, services, and technologies with the federal government. The highly competitive program enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides a profit incentive when their technologies are commercialized. 

Pitch Days are one way the Air Force selects businesses and awards SBIR contracts. These contracts are awarded in three phases. Phase I proves a concept. Phase II prototypes the technologies found to be feasible in Phase I. Phase III work derives from, extends, or completes efforts made under prior funding agreements in the SBIR/STTR program. This is the commercialization phase and the ultimate goal of each SBIR/STTR effort. 

The Air Force invited nine small businesses to “pitch” their solutions directly to a judging panel in proprietary 5-minute presentations. The panel, which included chairman Lt Gen Luke Richardson, asked questions and deliberated for five minutes, totaling 15 minutes for each pitch opportunity. 

For these Phase I businesses to win Phase II funding, the Air Force evaluated the businesses’ proposed solutions on the soundness of their ideas, technical merit, innovation, and incremental progress toward the SBIR Topic 19.2 solution. Each winning business signed Phase II contracts valued up to $750,000. This funding will help the small businesses jump-start a prototype. 

Over $5.25 million dollars was awarded to seven companies in less than three hours. Those that earned Phase II contracts were Advanced Silicon Group; Fourth State Communications, LLC; GoHypersonics, Inc.; Powdermet, Inc.; Spectral Energies, LLC; UES, Inc.; and Ursa Major Technologies, Inc. In addition to the Phase II contracts, these businesses received invitations to compete for Phase III contracts in the first national pitch day, Pitch Bowl, scheduled for March 2020 in Washington, D.C. 

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate by working to license and commercialize AFRL/RW technologies in the  private sector, enable rapid technology delivery to the warfighter, identify and foster new R&D partnerships, and develop AFRL’s current and future workforce. The Doolittle Institute is a member of the Defensewerx family. 

For more information about the Doolittle Institute, please phone at (850) 226-4383 or email at info@doolittleinstitute.org.

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